Japan launches ALOS

Japan launches ALOS

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The latest satellite in Japan’s Earth observation fleet, the Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS), was recently launched with Goodrich Corporation’s advanced, high-precision optical systems on board. The ALOS system will aid scientists in their search for natural resources, help cartographers around the world to create more precise maps, and provide support for disaster response.

Developed by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), ALOS is one of the largest Japanese satellites ever sent into space. The main imaging instrument on ALOS is the Panchromatic Remote-sensing Instrument of Stereo Mapping, or PRISM, payload, which will capture images on the Earth as small as 2.5-meters to support precision mapping. PRISM has three, Goodrich-produced, optical sensors pointing forward, down, and backward along the craft’s ground track as it orbits Earth. This arrangement provides high quality, three- dimensional imagery and can collect image areas on the Earth up to 70 kilometers wide.

Goodrich’s Electro-Optical Systems team, headquartered in Danbury, Conn., developed the advanced high precision optical systems in the three PRISM payload telescopes. Each telescope has a unique optical configuration allowing it to capture large areas on the ground. The Goodrich-produced mirrors for each of these lightweight systems are 0.6-meters in maximum dimension and are polished to a surface precision better than 10 billionths of a meter.

Goodrich’s Electro-Optical Systems team also provided the attitude control hardware that supports precision pointing of the ALOS spacecraft to specific regions of the Earth. These items incorporate Goodrich proprietary fine balancing processes, which dramatically reduce the disturbances imparted to the satellite. This is key to the proper operation of this highly sensitive technology.